Save Karnaphuli: The river turning into a ‘canal’...

Dhaka, Thursday   29 October 2020

Save Karnaphuli: The river turning into a ‘canal’

 Md. Rakibur Rahman, Chattogram

 Published: 03:48 PM, 22 September 2020   Updated: 05:50 PM, 22 September 2020

Karnaphuli River

Karnaphuli River

Karnaphuli River, one of the major rivers in the southeastern of Bangladesh, originates from Lushai Hills in India and links with Bay of Bengal through Chittagong Hill Tracts and Chattogram. However, the width of the river has come down by half in the last 14 years. If this continues, then Karnaphuli will turn into a “canal”, fear river experts.

At the time of construction of the second Karnaphuli Bridge in 2006, the river width was 886.16 meters as per the ADB master plan and BS sheet. But it has come down to more than half in 14 years, claimed leaders of the Chattogram Canal and River Protection Movement. 

Currently, the river width under Shah Amanat Bridge is only 410 meters during low tide – which crosses a maximum of 510 meters when crossing char during high tide. Besides, boats cannot pass through an area of at least 300 meters of the flooded river. As a result, the locals are crossing the river by setting up unannounced ghats.

“A survey had been conducted for 21 days from the Shah Amanat Bridge on the Karnaphuli River to Manoharkhali in the city’s Firingibazar where horrible pictures of Karnaphuli occupation and pollution has emerged,” said Oliur Rahman, general secretary of Chattogram Canal and River Protection Movement.

Shah Amanat Bridge

According to the ADB master plan and BS sheet, the width of Karnaphuli at the basin of Rajakhali canal was supposed to be 898 meters but in reality, it is 461 meters. Similarly, the Chaktai canal basin has 436 meters instead of 938 meters, he said.

On the other hand, the Firingibazar area is supposed to be 904 meters, but there is 750 meters as the port authority has built a guide wall. Besides, the Mariners Park area built by Chattogram City Corporation has 850 meters instead of 981 meters. “Although dredging has continued there,” the port authorities said.

Oliur Rahman further said that six proposals have been given to protect Karnaphuli by identifying the problems. Those are – immediately restore the course of the river by evicting all the illegal establishments by occupying the river including Karnaphuli Mariners Park, Sonali Fish Warehouse, Bera Market.

Filling and occupation map of Karnaphuli River

Permanent identification of river banks and construction of permanent defense walls to protect the banks and taking measures for river flow and river governance from the basin of Karnaphuli to Kalurghat through Hydro Morphological Model study was proposed, he also said. 

Meanwhile, river experts fear that if immediate steps are not taken to protect Karnaphuli, it will turn into a canal and Chattogram port will lose its effectiveness.